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Lifestyle : Everything Pets 12
1HERSA1 W004 Capturing everlasting memories of your furry friends The tale begins with your paw pals On-location and studio sessions are available, for bookings or enquiries contact us now! www.pawpalsphotography.com.au | firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 02 9785 6628 | Mob: 0408 661833 Please help us to put life back into the wild You can make a difference by making a donation or bequest today Donation hotline: 1300 094 737 Donation online: www.wires.org.au AG5356575AA-260812 EVERYTHING PETS 4 SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012 THE SUN HERALD Special report Do all dogs go to heaven? Lesson . . . the death of a pet can be devastating for children, but it can also help them see dying as a natural part of life's cycle. Many parents are vexed by how to deal with the death of a family pet but, when it comes to breaking the news to children, gentle honesty is often the best approach, writes Carolyn Boyd. '' Dealing with the grief could help children in later life. The raw devastation many children feel when a family pet passes away can be heartbreaking for parents to watch. While there is no instant fix to the pain, guiding children through the grieving process can help them see dying as a natural part of life's cycle. ''It is important that young children are introduced to this idea of the cycle of living and dying and the idea of the naturalness of death -- it happens to all living beings,'' the convener of the Psychologists for the Promotion of Animal Welfare group in the Australian Psychological Society, Mark England, says. England suggests telling children honestly and openly that a pet has died, ''instead of pretending that the pet has run away or been stolen, or to even say 'gone to God' -- just disappeared with no physical trace of the pet''. Exactly what parents choose to tell or show their children will depend on the circumstance of the pet's death, the age of the children and the parents' own cultural and religious notions about dying. Children aged three and under may struggle to understand the situation, England says. The older that children are, the more affected they might be, because older children can conceptualise the implications of the death. Sydney vet Ben Rochester says he shies away from advising parents on what to tell children when a pet has died. ''It's such a personal, personal thing that I definitely don't say, 'This is the best thing to do, or the only thing to do,' '' Rochester says. ''It really goes to the belief systems -- do you believe in God, are you strongly religious? As a vet, you've really got to be careful not to go too far.'' The key, Rochester says, is to explain the reason for a pet dying or being put down. ''The reason why it has to happen is because you are relieving suffering,'' he says. ''If an animal is suffering and it's really unwell and it's in pain -- these are the words we often use -- then I think it's easy for anyone, including kids, to understand that concept and it justifies why you're doing it.'' While children are usually not present if a pet has to be put down, Rochester says some adults find comfort from knowing what happens. ''Some people feel that obligation to be there at the end,'' he says. ''Other people . . . don't want to be there to see that.'' England says regardless of how much information parents choose to share with their children, it is important that younger members of the family are given an opportunity to express their positive feelings about the pet and that they understand it is not through any fault of the pet that it is no longer with the child. Successfully dealing with the grief of losing a pet could help children in later life when they are inevitably faced with the death of a loved one. ''In our society, generally when people die, people are kept away from that process and a lot of people have actually never seen a dead person and even if there's a death in the family, they may not see the body,'' England says. ''So it's as if we really separate ourselves from death and when death occurs it's very, very hard to handle if it's been so separate from our lives.''
Taste of Asia 2012